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My Grandfather's House: A Genealogy of Doubt and Faith [Paperback]

By Robert Clark (Author)
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Item description for My Grandfather's House: A Genealogy of Doubt and Faith by Robert Clark...

In the tradition of Augustine's "Confessions", Robert Clark tells the story of his return to the Catholic Church through the prism of the religious history of his ancestors.

Publishers Description
Finalist, "Los Angeles Times" Book Prize for Biography
In the tradition of Augustine's "Confessions," Robert Clark tells the story of his return to the Catholic Church through the prism of the religious history of his ancestors. Intertwining their experiences as Catholics in late-medieval England, as Puritan settlers in 17th Century New England, and as 19th Century New England transcendentalists with his childhood in an Episcopalian boarding school and later conversion to Roman Catholicism, Clark presents not only a memoir but a testament of faith.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Picador
Pages   304
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.28" Width: 5.53" Height: 0.84"
Weight:   0.6 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 6, 2000
Publisher   Picador
ISBN  0312243146  
ISBN13  9780312243142  

Availability  132 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 26, 2016 03:33.
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More About Robert Clark

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Robert Clark is the author of the novels "In the Deep Midwinter" and "Mr. White's Confession, " as well as "River of the West, " a cultural history of the Columbia River, and "The Solace of Food," a biography of James Beard. He is also the recipient of the Edgar Award for Best Mystery. A native of St. Paul, Minneapolis, he lives in Seattle with his wife and two children.

Robert Clark currently resides in Seattle, in the state of Washington. Robert Clark was born in 1952.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Leaders & Notable People > Religious
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary

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Reviews - What do customers think about My Grandfather's House: A Genealogy of Doubt and Faith?

Nice Idea for a Book but Weakly Executed  Oct 24, 2006
I was pre-disposed to like this book but in the end I was disappointed. While it is very well written and the author is erudite to be sure, the pacing and story line don't carry the reader along with sufficient velocity. As I was reading, I went from mildly interested to wondering why he was telling me this or that (or why I should care) and then back again. When I put the back down it was a real chore to pick it up and get interested again -- never a good sign. The tie-ins with 19th century luminaries such as Margaret Fuller and Ralph Waldo Emerson are interesting and thoughtful but they come late in the story. The discussion of religion and contrasting beliefs (and dis-belief) is drier but worth the effort. Unfortunately, in the end, this book is less than the sum of its parts.
What is this book trying to accomplish?  Dec 15, 2005
I certainly hope that the theologically unschooled don't use this book as their only handbook on church history. Clark has fundamental misunderstandings about Protestantism that go off on wider and wider tangents, and he closes his eyes to the doctrinal abuses of the Catholic church in Luther's day. I also hope that writers don't use this book as an example of how to write a memoir. Just what was Clark trying to write? 1. A history of religion?(Failed). 2. A story of his family? (Perhaps, but he seems more inclined to brag about the various famous people his kinfolk knew than about the family itself.) 3. A biography of Margaret Fuller? (This section, which consumes a huge portion of the book, would probably have been an interesting tome of its own but takes up too much time here.) 4. His personal story? (It comes and goes in the book almost as though he lost his train of thought.) Personally, it all seems like an extension of the therapy sessions he had as a troubled youth. This volume must have served a cathartic purpose for Clark, but didn't do much for me. It adds about as much to the understanding of religion as THE DAVINCI CODE.
Beauty and Story and God  Oct 2, 2003
Perhaps one of the most original and reflective conversion stories in print. Clark creates a self-portrait from the reflection he finds of himself in the 500-something years of his family's history. Amazingly researched, beautifully written. Probably has a special appeal to people of English ancestry and, of course, to those who contemplate theological mysteries.

Unlike the other two reviewers, I had no problem with his discussion of Protestantism. Rather, I felt that he had a firm understanding of the content of his book.

Great Storyteller + Great Story= Great Read  Jul 12, 2003
The author is certainly not a theologian, but he is a magnificent storyteller. I read this book primarily for the story of the author, but found myself pulled into the tale of his English ancestors, something that I would not have read about under normal circumstances. I enjoyed very much his weaving together of his own personal spiritual journey with that of his forbearers.

While the other reviewer thought that his description of Lutheranism was off base (I agree), I would remark that the Universalist or Puritan trajectory of the Reformation was not an illogical outcome given some of the premises of Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli concerning the nature of revelation, the church, the bible, matter, redemption, damnation and self. They are certainly not the only possible outcomes, which the author sort of implies, but they are certainly connected intellectually to Luther.

If you want to know more than you want to know about the relationships of the Naturalist Emerson and Thoreau, or neat details about Hawthorne and Melville, not to mention countless other luminaries, this book's later chapters will certainly be of interest to you.

You may find "Surprised By Joy" by C. S. Lewis enjoyable as a spiritual autobiography. Of course, Thomas Merton's "Seven Story Mountain" is incredible for its style and content.

Fine spiritual biography/embarrassing religious history  Dec 28, 1999
Clark has deep knowledge of his forebears' stories, an open way of telling his own story - which seems to be quite relevant to the experience of many 'boomers' in its search for spiritual grounding - and a really wonderful and subtle way of tying the two together so that the past becomes alive in and to the present.

Perhaps inevitably for someone who feels that he has undergone a spiritual hegira culminating in attainment of his proper place, Clark shows a good deal more insight into and sympathy for his childhood days and current condition than for the states of mind and being in between, which tend to become mere waystations (viewed rather unsympathetically) en route to the present.

When Clark ventures beyond attesting to these stories and attempts to speak more globally of the nature and defects of Protestantism vis-a-vis Catholicism the incompleteness and defectiveness of his grasp of the subject are unfortunately clear. The only branches of Protestantism actually considered are Lutheranism (the picture drawn quite misss the essence) and his own Anglican- Puritan-Harvard-Unitarian ancestry, which is clearly too small a slice of the Protestant pie (despite Mayflower-descendants' tendency to think themselves the pinnacle of intellectual and spiritual progress) to justify the sweeping statements made, which mar (and were quite unnecessary to) Mr Clark's otherwise interesting and lively book.


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